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Ceal's Sandwich Shop a favorite spot for lunch

Apr. 02, 2012 @ 12:59 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Tucked inside the halls of the Huntington Arcade is one of the oldest restaurants in West Virginia.

Ceal's Sandwich Shop was established in 1926 by its founder, Ceal McClanahan. McClanahan managed to secure a 99-year lease in the newly built Huntington Arcade with a rent fee of $25 a month.

The shop, which originally sold fine cigars, was unnamed for many years. At one point McClanahan owned five cigar stands across town.

Ceal left the restaurant to her niece, Betty Karnes. Karnes eventually sold the shop to its current owners, Kim and Greg Carico. Four years ago the new owners renamed the deli Ceal's Sandwich Shop in honor of the founder. By this time the small business had affectionately been called "The Hole" by business clientele in downtown Huntington.

Today the eatery is preparing for new neighbors. The former shopping center is being transformed into condominiums.

"Betty Karnes started working here when she was 14 years old," said Greg Carico. "When she sold it to Kim and I she told me she had worked here for 52 years, and she told me she had never once thought about getting old. I told her I hoped we could say that when we had been here that long."

The small shop's most popular sandwich is a 6-inch Italian Sub called "The Gotti" that sells for $3.99. The sandwich features ham, pepperoni, salami, peppers, Swiss cheese and Italian dressing. The shop also offers a "Big Burger" for $3.39 which can be topped with American, Swiss, pepperjack or sharp cheddar cheese. There is also a $3.95 hot dog special featuring two dogs, chips and a fountain drink. The diner also sells breakfast sandwiches and Maxwell House coffee. The shop also offers a different special each day ranging from spaghetti to open-faced turkey sandwiches.

"My wife has a special recipe for hot dog chili," Carico said. "It's a secret family recipe. It takes about three hours to make once the ingredients are together. It's got a full flavor to it with onions and mustard.

"Our standby is our milkshakes," Carico added. "They're the best in town. They're hand-dipped. We use Broughton ice cream, and everyone loves them."

Part of the shop's appeal is the cost of its food.

"People come in here looking for a good deal," Carico said. "With the economy the way it is, people want good food at a good price. We serve quickly, and we have friendly people working for us. People have been going here for years."

Ceal's Sandwich Shop is located at 945 4th Ave., inside of the Huntington Arcade. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends. Visa and Mastercard are accepted. For carry-out orders, call 304-409-4314.

If you go: Ceal's Sandwich Shop

Type of food: Sandwich Shop

Address: 945 4th Ave., Huntington

Phone number: 304-409-4314

Payments accepted: Cash and Visa/Master Card

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed weekends.

On the web: For more than 150 restaurant profiles and growing, visit the entertainment page at www.herald-dispatch.com.